Booking flights for traveling employees is one of the core responsibilities of a dedicated corporate travel manager. Flights are one of the largest expense categories associated with business travel, so travel managers must be adept at seeking out the most cost-effective options for scheduling corporate airfare in compliance with the corporate travel policy. Flight tickets can be booked through a traditional travel agent, a web-based search and booking tool or through the airline itself, but it's up to travel managers to hunt down the best deal for each employee's travel itinerary and balance cost savings with an appropriate standard of travel for the employee.
To help travel managers understand how to book corporate flight tickets for the lowest price, we're providing ten tips to help you get the best deals on airfare for business travel in 2019.
Negotiate Corporate Discounts with Preferred Airlines
Corporations that want to reduce their business travel expenses should identify the airlines they use the most and negotiate a preferred rate for purchasing tickets. Offer to preferentially book all of your transportation with a specific airline anytime your employees travel on a route serviced by that company. In exchange, the company can offer you preferred pricing that helps offset the cost of your frequent bookings.
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Caption: Some high-traffic air routes have many different carriers to choose from, making it difficult to narrow down the best price. Negotiating a preferred rate with a specific airline can simplify the process, giving your company consistent access to affordably-priced tickets on your most frequently traveled routes.
Browse Discount Airlines for the Best Deals
Discount airlines offer a bare-bones service experience for travelers, but they can be an excellent way of traveling long distances on a short budget. In the past, intercontinental travel was considered the domain of traditional and more costly airlines, but today, discount airlines like Norwegian Air, Porter, Southwest, Ryanair, and Jetstar, among others, are making it easier for corporate travelers to skip between continents on a shoestring budget.
The next time you're booking a long-distance flight, look for a comprehensive list of airlines that travel on that route and check whether any discount airlines are offering an ultra-affordable booking option.
Book in Advance for the Best Prices
Airfare prices follow predictable trends that every travel manager must understand. Once a flight is announced, the cost of tickets tends to increase as the departure date draws nearer. Sometimes, however, the airline will drop the price as the departure date gets closer as a response to a low demand for tickets.
Travel managers should encourage employees to book airfares well in advance to avoid paying too much as the price increases, but not so early that they miss the opportunity to buy the tickets for cheaper if the price ends up decreasing. The best time for corporate travel management to book a flight is typically 6-8 weeks before the departure date.
Check Pricing Trends with Google Flights
Deem Work Fource is a suite of mobile and cloud software application that makes it easier than ever for travel managers to search for corporate flights, choose the cheapest and most cost-effective travel dates that fit their travel itinerary and monitor airfares to chosen destinations as they fluctuate throughout the year. The platform delivers these features through integration with the ITA Matrix search engine, Google’s industry-leading travel search tool. With Deem, travelers can find more flight options in a shorter time frame, dynamically sort search results to identify the best choices, and set fare alerts to find the best deals.
Watch Out for Deceptive Pricing Tactics
To avoid this, active incognito mode on your web browser before visiting a third-party booking agent. This will prevent the website from tracking your behavior and manipulating the prices of tickets that you may want to purchase.
Look for Flight Tickets in a Foreign Currency
If you have access to a credit card that can be used to pay in foreign currency with no penalties, you might be able to save money by purchasing your airfare with foreign currency. A ticket that costs $200 USD on an airline's American website might cost $250 on the Canadian website, but given the exchange rate you would actually save money by paying for the ticket in Canadian dollars. These opportunities come up more often than you think, so be prepared with several payment options to secure the best deal.
Compare Carriers with Third-Party Booking Sites
You shouldn't assume that you're getting the best price just because you're purchasing tickets from the airline. You also shouldn't assume that a third-party booking site is showing you every available option - they might only be showing you flights from airlines that have agreed to pay them a booking fee, and they could be neglecting to list even cheaper options.
Comparative shopping is vital for making sure you get the best deal on corporate flight tickets, and you should always investigate multiple sources before choosing the most cost-effective option that suits your travel itinerary.
Register for Emails with Cheap Flight Deals
Airlines commonly initiate 24-hour sales to sell off last-minute fares at discounted rates, but unless you're browsing all of the major carriers each day, your travelers are likely to miss out on these deals. Recommend your travelers register their email to some of the company preferred discount carriers and they’ll receive emails whenever a major promotion happens that might save the company a bundle of cash. There are also websites that will comb the major airfare search engines each day, aggregate the best deals and send them to your traveler’s inbox each day.
Get Special Perks with an Airline Credit Card
Travelers book their airfare, hotels and other travel expenses using company-issued credit cards. There are many types of “business” or “corporate” credit cards available from leading banks, but if your company spends a lot on travel, you might consider signing up for a business credit card offered by your favorite airline.
Major air carriers such as Delta, Southwest and Hawaiian Airlines have partnered with banks to offer airline business credit cards with special perks, including savings on in-flight purchases, free checked luggage, airport lounge access and even free companion passes. Taking advantage of these perks, many of which are available exclusively through airline business credit card programs, can make the travel experience more pleasant and streamlined and help support cost reduction initiatives.
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Cash In Your Reward Miles
A great way to reduce the total expenses of corporate travel management is to start booking your flights with airline reward miles. Reward program cards can be used to collect points at any participating retailer wherever your organization spends money. When an employee buys gas for their company vehicle, they can collect reward points to help reduce company airfare costs. If the company purchases gift cards as a reward or incentive for employees, it can collect reward miles to put towards travel expenses.
As your organization increases its corporate travel budget each year, the savings associated with reward programs can run into the thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Deem's Airfare Booking Platform Simplifies Corporate Travel Management
Deem's corporate travel booking platform gives your traveling employees the freedom and flexibility to book their own travel itineraries from anywhere in the world, but within an approved financial framework that prevents over-spending. Our platform facilitates automated compliance with the guidelines of your corporate travel policy, helping employees quickly book affordable airfare through Google's ITA search engine and a content hub for accessing hundreds of low-cost carriers.
With automated ticket exchange and easy integration with any expense platform, Deem is driving increased efficiency in corporate travel while saving our customers millions every year. See for yourself how we're making it happen.